Shawn Johnson

Shawn Johnson Biography(Courtesy Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Shawn Machel Johnson (born January 19, 1992) is a retired American artistic gymnast. She was the 2008 Olympic balance beam gold medalist and team, all-around and floor exercise silver medalist, the 2007 all-around World Champion, and the 2007 and 2008 U.S. all-around champion. In 2009, Johnson became the winner of the season eight edition of Dancing with the Stars.

Personal life

Johnson was born in Des Moines, Iowa, the only child of Doug and Teri Johnson. Her parents enrolled her in a gymnastics class at age three after they noticed her climbing cabinets and jumping off tables. At age six, Johnson was one of Liang Chow's first students when he opened a gymnastics school in West Des Moines. She is a devout Christian.

Johnson attended a public school, Valley High School. She was on the honor roll, attended football games, and participated in extra-curriculars. Through 2008, Johnson maintained a more balanced lifestyle than typical of elite female gymnasts. She limited her gymnastics training to 25 hours per week, as opposed to the more typical 40 hours.

Johnson left public school in the spring of 2009. She and her mother relocated to Los Angeles, California and she appeared on Dancing With the Stars. As of 2010, she finished high school with a private tutor.

Gymnastics career

Junior career


In 2004, Johnson competed in the Junior Olympics (U.S. Level 10) National Championships, finishing fourth in the all-around, first on beam, and second on floor.

As a youngster, Johnson was not scouted by USAG and her coach, Chow, had no interactions with the national staff. In 2005, Chow reached out to the National Team Coordinator, Marta Karolyi, sending her a video of Johnson, with the comment "I believe this kid will help the US team." Karolyi felt the action was audacious, "Wow, this coach is pretty confident", but she soon invited Johnson to national team training camps.

Junior elite

Johnson qualified Junior International Elite on her first attempt. She attracted widespread attention at the 2005 U.S. Classic, where she placed third. At the 2005 U.S. National Championships, Johnson fell from the beam on the first day of competition and finished tenth all-around.

In 2006, Johnson added several new tricks, including a Jaeger on bars, and two top-difficulty (G) skills, a full-in back-out dismount off beam and a double-twisting double back on floor. She won the 2006 U.S. Junior National All-Around Championship with a score higher than any of her senior elite competitors.

Senior career

2007: pre-Worlds

Johnson became a senior in 2007 and continued to show new skills, including a double-twisting double layout dismount off the uneven bars. She competed at the 2007 Tyson American Cup, winning the all-around over teammate Natasha Kelley. Johnson also competed in the 2007 Pan American Games, winning four gold medals (team, all-around, beam and bars) and a silver on floor.

Johnson won the all-around at the 2007 Visa U.S. National Championships, beating Shayla Worley by more than three points. Johnson also finished more than five points ahead of two-time National Champion Nastia Liukin, in the first of a series of face-offs over the next two years.

2007 Pan American Games

Johnson took part in 2007 Panamerican Games. She won the team title, the all around title, the balance beam title and the uneven bars title. She was the silver medalist on floor.

2007 World Championships

Johnson represented the U.S. at the 2007 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships along with Nastia Liukin, Shayla Worley, Alicia Sacramone, Ivana Hong and Samantha Peszek.

In prelims (qualification), Johnson scored 16.250 on beam, 15.150 on floor, 15.175 on vault, and (with a fall on her dismount) 14.625 on bars. The U.S. finished first in prelims and Johnson qualified to the all-around, beam and floor finals.

Johnson performed all four events in the team finals; the only U.S. athlete to do this. Johnson scored 15.375 on bars and floor, and 15.150 on vault. She fell on the beam on her handspring-handspring-layout series and scored 15.025. The team won gold with 184.400 points, 0.950 ahead of silver-medal China. It was the second U.S. team gold in the World Championships.

In the all-around finals, Johnson scored a 15.175 on vault, 15.375 on bars, 15.900 on beam and 15.425 on floor. Her 61.875 total made her the fourth American woman to win the all-around gold medal.

During event finals, Johnson first competed on the balance beam, where she fell on her standing full and on her switch side leap, scoring a 14.475 and finishing last. In floor exercise, she went out-of-bounds on her first tumbling pass, but won the gold with a 15.250, just eclipsing teammate Sacramone.

2008: pre-Olympics

Johnson competed again in the American Cup on March 1, 2008 in Madison Square Garden. On vault, she fell on her Amanar vault, scoring a 15.175. She stated that her attempt to "stick" the vault caused the fall. On the other apparatus, she scored 15.625 on bars, 16.325 on beam, and 15.975 on floor. Although Johnson scored first on the vault, balance beam, and floor, she finished second in the all-around. Nastia Liukin won gold with an uneven bars score nearly a point higher than Johnson.

One week later, Johnson represented the U.S. in Jesolo, Italy against Italy, Spain, and Poland, along with Jana Bieger, Olivia Courtney, Chelsea Davis, Bridget Sloan, and Samantha Peszek. The U.S. won the junior and senior all-around team titles. Johnson won the all-around with a 61.7, earning the highest scores on vault (15.2), beam (16.2), and floor (15.0). Johnson finished first on floor, despite falling, on her double-double mount.

On June 7, 2008, Johnson won the 2008 U.S. Visa Championships. Johnson scored 127.5, winning the all-around title by one point ahead of Liukin. Johnson also won the floor exercise.

Two weeks later, Johnson won the all-around at the Olympic Trials in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, again finishing ahead of Liukin. Because of their top placements, Johnson and Liukin were named to the 2008 U.S. Olympic gymnastics team immediately after the Trials. The other four 2008 team members earned their spots after two additional selection camps.

2008 Summer Olympics

At the 2008 Summer Olympics Johnson competed in all four events during the team competition, in which the United States won the silver medal. Johnson also won the silver medal in the individual all-around competition, receiving a score of 62.725. Johnson's teammate and roommate at the Olympic Village, Nastia Liukin, won the gold medal, receiving a score of 63.325. With Liukin taking gold and Johnson silver, this competition was the first time that the United States Women's Gymnastics team took both the gold and silver medals in the individual all-around competition; this competition also marks the fourth time a country won both gold and silver medals in the individual all-around competition.

She won the silver medal in floor exercise, with teammate Liukin taking bronze. She won a gold medal on the balance beam apparatus. Like the individual all-around, she and Liukin took the top two medals in this event.


In January 2010, Johnson tore her left ACL while skiing. She had reconstructive knee surgery the following month.

In May 2010, Johnson announced her return to gymnastics training with a goal of making 2012 U.S. Olympic team.

In August 2010, Johnson communicated that her knee recovered to allow full training and that she had learned a new difficult skill.

In September 2010, Johnson released videos showing the following skills (training status):

  • Vault
    • Yurchenko 2.5 "Amanar" (into pit)
    • Yurchenko 2.0 (into pit)
  • Uneven bars
    • double twisting double layout dismount (into pit)
    • toe-on full pirouette, connected to Geinger salto
  • Beam
    • back handspring, back handspring, full twisting layout (floor line)
    • standing full twisting back salto (floor line)
    • back handspring, back handspring, layout (low beam)
    • switch leap, layout step-out, back pike
    • front tuck
  • Floor exercise
    • full twisting double layout (spotted onto pit mat, also unassisted on tumbletrack)
    • double layout (unassisted onto pit mat and on tumbletrack)
    • whip, double twisting back layout (tumbletrack)
    • double pike
    • double layout (unassisted on the spring floor)
In November 2010, Johnson entered her first post-Olympics National Team Training Camp. Although she had expected to return to the "ranch" later in her comeback, based on the demonstrated progress in her video, Martha Karolyi requested that she appear sooner. Johnson mentioned that her reconstructed knee still hindered high training volume.

In February 2011 Johnson became an official member of the USA Senior National team once again which allowed her to compete in international competitions. She stated that she wished to return to competition later in 2011.

In September 2011 Johnson was named a non-traveling alternate to the 2011 USA Women's World Championships Team.

In October 2011 Johnson was named to the 2011 Pan American Games Team. She won a gold medal in the team competition and also a silver medal for her performance on the uneven bars.


On June 3, 2012, Johnson ended her comeback for the 2012 Olympic team and retired because of continuing problems with her left knee.


Johnson was one of two female athletes to appear on AOL's 100 most searched females on the Internet for 2009, ranked 27th.

A scientific poll commissioned by Forbes magazine concluded Johnson was "America's Most-Liked Sports Figure" in 2009.

Johnson was also on the top of most appealing athletes on E-score Celebrity metric in 2010, and she was ranked seventh of America's Favorite Female Sports Stars on Harris Interactive in 2010.

ESPN announced Johnson's nominations for the 2009 "Best Female U.S. Olympian" Johnson won an ESPY for "Best Female U.S. Olympian" and "Athlete " Female" Teen Choice Award, the latter for the second consecutive year.

On April 15, 2009, Johnson was awarded the prestigious AAU James E. Sullivan Award. The annual award honors the USA athlete who best represents "the qualities of leadership, character, sportsmanship, and the ideals of amateurism."

Johnson ranked fifth in the Associated Press' 2008 Female Athlete of the Year voting.

Johnson was the winner of the 2008 Teen Choice Award for best female athlete, although she was not able to accept the honor in person because of Olympic training commitments. She was the first gymnast to be nominated for the award.

A life-sized bronze sculpture of Johnson honors the gymnast at the Iowa Hall of Pride in Des Moines.

On September 7, 2007, Johnson received the "Longines Prize for Elegance" in Stuttgart, Germany along with Japan's Hiroyuki Tomita. The prize is given in recognition of athletes who demonstrate remarkable elegance in the course of an international competition at world level; the decision was unanimous. In addition to the trophy, designed by the Swiss artist Piero Travaglini, recipients also receive a wristwatch from the Longines Evidenza collection and a check for $5,000.

Following Johnson's World Championship performances in 2007, Governor Chet Culver of Iowa proclaimed October 17 "Shawn Johnson Day" in the state.

In popular culture

Dancing with the Stars

In February 2009, Johnson became a celebrity competitor on ABC's Dancing with the Stars season eight, partnered with season six winner, professional dancer Mark Ballas. She is the youngest competitor in show's history. In the finale, tightest in the show's history, Johnson beat Gilles Marini by less than 1%.

In April 2009, she appeared in the music video "Do You Love Me" by Ballas Hough Band wearing one of her Dancing with the Stars costumes. Later, she reunited with one of the show hosts, Tom Bergeron, at the 82nd Scripps National Spelling Bee to discuss her victory.

On September 24, 2012, Johnson again became a contestant on Dancing with the Stars, on the all-star edition (season 15). Her partner this time was three-time champion Derek Hough. The team of Johnson & Hough came in 2nd place to Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, which aired on November 27, 2012.

Other television appearances

Johnson has appeared on many talk shows: The Today Show (3 times), CCTV (August 20, 2008), The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (August 24, 2008), the Late Show with David Letterman (August 25, 2008), The Oprah Winfrey Show (September 8, 2008), The Ellen DeGeneres Show (4 times), Live with Regis and Kelly (October 22, 2008), Jimmy Kimmel Live! (May 20, 2009), and Entertainment Tonight (23 episodes).

In September 2008, she made a cameo appearance on a season one episode of The Secret Life of the American Teenager. She made a second appearance in the series, in the season two episode, "Just Say Me", which aired January 25, 2010.

Johnson was a celebrity participant in the 2009 Taco Bell All-Star Legends Celebrity Softball Game which aired on ESPN, July 13, 2009.

On August 13, 2009, she appeared on the celebrity edition of Who Wants to be a Millionaire. She correctly answered a question about the lyrics to "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer" winning $50,000 for her chosen charity, Blank Children's Hospital.

Johnson judged the 2010 Miss America pageant.

Public appearances

Johnson led the Pledge of Allegiance on August 28, 2008 at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.

On July 27, 2009, Johnson led the seventh-inning stretch at Wrigley Field.

Gymnastic tours

From September to November 2008, Johnson was a marquee member of The Tour of Gymnastics Superstars. Recorded sections of the tour's second show were included in Frosted Pink with a Twist, which is a television special about women's cancers (Johnson has a grandmother who is a cancer survivor). The television special also featured singers Jesse McCartney, Kenny Loggins, and Grammy Award singers Cyndi Lauper and Carole King. Johnson also headlined the Progressive Skating and Gymnastics Spectacular in Rapid City, South Dakota, on December 23, 2008. The show aired nationally on NBC on January 18, 2009.


In December 2008, Johnson unveiled a book, Shawn Johnson: Olympic Champion: Stories Behind the Smile (ISBN 978-1-934417-01-0), chronicling her life story through personal photographs and quotes.

In June 2012, Johnson released another book, Winning Balance, about her experiences as an elite gymnast and post-olympic life.


Midwest grocery chain Hy-Vee, headquartered in Johnson's hometown of West Des Moines, ran a television ad before and during the Olympics featuring Johnson. After the Olympics, Johnson appeared in television ads and online campaigns for Ortega ("Ortega makes my taco pop") and McDonalds, as well as print and web advertisements for CoverGirl and Secret deodorant. Johnson also appeared on food packaging for McDonalds, Coca-Cola, Oscar Mayer Lunchables and Hy-Vee products. Reports by Johnson's agent, Sheryl Shade, that Johnson would grace the Wheaties cereal box did not come to fruition. Her likeness did appear on a limited edition Cheerios box in January 2009. Other endorsements included

  • Longines watches (2007)
  • Crest toothpaste (P&G)
  • Sanofi-Aventis pharmaceuticals (2008)
  • Oroweat baked goods (2008)
  • Circuit City
  • InterContinental Hotels Group
  • Eukanuba
  • Nestle
  • Bounty paper towels (2012)

Other work

She has served as a spokesperson for the pharmaceutical company Sanofi-Aventis, advocating awareness of women's cancers through the "What You Do Matters" campaign. Johnson has also partnered with Crest toothpaste to promote dental health, passing out toothpaste to low-income people.

Charity work

Since becoming a professional athlete, Johnson has been involved with numerous charitable causes. In December 2008, Johnson co-hosted a charity event with fellow Iowa native and actor Ashton Kutcher to raise money to repair areas of her home state devastated by flooding. According to her Web site, Johnson also supports the "Exercise Your Character" program through speaking engagements.

Stalking incident

On March 25, 2009, a stalker was arrested after jumping a fence and sneaking onto the CBS lot. According to court documents filed in Los Angeles, 34-year-old Robert O'Ryan was arrested with the possession of guns, duct tape, zip ties, and love letters to Johnson. O'Ryan left his home in Florida and traveled to California, believing that Johnson spoke to him through the television via ESP, stating that they would be together and have a child. The Johnson family filed a restraining order against O'Ryan. O'Ryan was charged with felony stalking and two counts of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

Competitive history


As of 2008, Johnson often competed the following skills, listed per apparatus.

  • Vault: Amanar " 2 twisting, laid out Yurchenko
  • Bars: Toe-on full pirouette; Jaeger; Gienger; bail handstand; double twisting double layout dismount
  • Floor: Double twisting double tuck; whip immediate triple full; front full punch layout rudi; double full; tucked full-in
  • Beam: Two back handsprings to a back layout; Front Pike; standing tucked full; switch split leap to layout step out to pike back; full-in tuck dismount

Senior career history

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2008 2008 Summer Olympics Beijing All Around 2 62.725 1 62.725
Team 2 186.525 2 246.800
Floor Exercise 2 15.500 3 15.425
Balance Beam 1 16.225 3 15.975
Vault Did not qualify Did not qualify " 16.000 (one vault only)
Uneven Bars 11 15.325
U.S. Championships Boston All Around 1
Floor Exercise 1
Balance Beam 2
Uneven Bars 5
American Cup New York City All Around 2
Olympic trials America All Around 1
2007 World Championships Stuttgart All Around 1 61.875 3 61.200
Balance Beam 8 14.475 3 16.250
Floor Exercise 1 15.250 4 15.150
Team 1 184.400 1 245.025
Uneven Bars 41 14.625
U.S. Championships San Jose All Around 1
Balance Beam 1
Floor Exercise 1
Uneven Bars 3
Pan American Games Rio de Janeiro Team 1
All Around 1
Uneven Bars 1
Balance Beam 1
Floor Exercise 2
American Cup Jacksonville All Around 1

Junior career history

Year Competition Description Location Apparatus Rank-Final Score-Final Rank-Qualifying Score-Qualifying
2006 U.S. Championships Saint Paul All Around 1
Vault 1
Balance Beam 1
Floor Exercise 1
Uneven Bars 2
Pan American Championships Gatineau, Quebec Team 1
Balance Beam 1
All Around 1
Uneven Bars 2
Floor Exercise 2
Pacific Alliance Championships Honolulu All Around 1
Team 1
Vault 1
Floor Exercise 1
Balance Beam 2
2005 U.S. Championships Indianapolis All Around 10
Vault 4
Uneven Bars 9

This biography article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Shawn Johnson". Reality TV World is not responsible for any errors or omissions this article may contain.

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